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Ambulance Dispute Swirls in Maryland

From Associated Press

Mayor Alfred Hopkins has come under fire for allowing an ambulance to transport Gov. William Donald Schaefer’s longtime companion to a hospital in Baltimore.

A man had a heart attack and died while the ambulance, one of two owned by the city, was taking Hilda Mae Snoops to the hospital 35 miles away.

City Alderman Carl Snowden said he plans to ask the City Council to investigate the July 24 incident.

“I am in no way charging that the governor or Hilda Mae Snoops did anything inappropriate,” Snowden said Friday. But he added that Hopkins violated a city policy against using ambulances to transport patients outside the city on non-emergency calls.

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Hopkins said he thought it was an emergency.

“What I have done has been done in the past,” he said. “This is nothing new.”

Thomas C. Sharps, 71, of Annapolis, suffered a heart attack and died while the ambulance was out of town and the other city ambulance was tied up. A county ambulance answered the emergency call to Sharps’ home within eight minutes.

Snowden said Hopkins “gave preferential treatment to Mrs. Snoops that may have contributed to a vehicle not being available that may have saved a man’s life.”

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Frank Traynor, the governor’s press secretary, said criticism of Snoops’ use of the ambulance is a “mean-spirited, cold, calculated effort” to discredit her and Schaefer.

Traynor would not say who he thought was trying to discredit Snoops and the governor. He said Snowden was doing his duty in representing the interests of a constituent.

Snoops, 66, has been battling an undisclosed illness for several months. Schaefer has described her illness as serious but not life threatening.

The Annapolis Fire Department initially turned down a request by a state trooper to transport Snoops from the governor’s mansion to Baltimore. The trooper then called the mayor, who authorized use of the ambulance.

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